"The Road Not Taken" Essay

The Road Not Taken Term paper

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“The Road Not Taken” In analyzing the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, it represents “the classic choice of a moment and a lifetime.”(pg 129) He relies much on the reflections of nature to convey his theme. However, this poem seems to be in essence very simple but opens the door for many interpretations. In using a simple fork in a road, Frost writes much to symbolize life and choices in which one will make. Frost uses unique ability to see an ordinary, everyday activity to portray such a theme. By using such simple endeavors, Frost reaches his audience on a more personal level. However, it is only one’s past, present and the attitude with which he or she looks upon the future that determines the shade of light in which the poem will be seen. (pg 621) There is never a straight path for one to follow on life’s journey. By using two paths in which to choose from, Frost leaves one to realize that everyone must travel and will reach a point of decision. With stating “And sorry I could not travel both,” Frost shows the point in which one will choose because there is only one path in which one may travel. It is most difficult to make a decision on each appealing path because everyone will always seem to question “what could I or could I not miss out on?” The fact he is sorry he is sorry he cannot travel, or choose, both paves the way for regret. This will often be reflected upon by an individual in which saying “ what could have been” leads one to dwelling over the choice of road in which they did not take. In knowing that each one may be influenced in many directions, Frost clearly implies “And be one traveler, long I stood.” No matter how each of us may be influenced by family or various sources, there is only “one traveler” that will be affected by any decision and there is quite a lengthy thought process involved. Regardless of any outside influence there is only one to be involved and truly affected, as does any choice in life. In somewhat of an attempt to make a decision each person wants to carefully examine the unknown. In using sort of a checks and balances a person would weigh out the risk factor to be involved. Frost uses the line, “And looked down one as far as I could” to portray an involved examination. The strain used in “as far as I could” symbolizes somewhat of a unknown content of where the path may lead. No matter what one knows of the beginning of a road there seems to be some unknown factor involved, as does any choice in life. It is the way that he chooses here that sets him off on his journey and where the road will take him. Then as we close out the first stanza, we establish that yet “one” road has been “looked down” as far as possible. However, the use of the semicolon after “under- growth” initiates a turn of the head to lead into the examination of the other road. (pg 133) “Then took the other, just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim.” What seems to have made it such a better claim is that “it was grassy and wanted wear.” It was a road obviously not for everyone because it seemed that the majority of people took the other often traveled path. Therefore, Frost calls this “the road less traveled by.” The simple fact that the traveler chooses to take this path over the frequently chosen path, indicates the type of personality in the traveler. It shows that the individual is one to not particularly follow the crowd but sets him apart from the rest by doing something new and unique. It is often called “the path of least resistance.” In being somewhat of an easier way with less obstacles to overcome. “And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black.” The leaves had somewhat covered the ground and since the time they had fallen no one had yet to travel on this road. Perhaps Frost does this to show that each time a person comes to a point where they have to make a choice, it is new to them. It envisions that it is somewhere the traveler has never been. They may tend to feel as though possibly no one else had ever been there either. A modern phrase comes to mind in saying that it is human nature to have the want or desire “to go where no man has ever gone before.” After the choice of roads is described and considered, Frost writes “Oh, I kept the the first for another day!” In showing the desire to travel down both roads and that request is not unusual, the point of realizing the final decision is not a temporary one is expressed in saying “Yet knowing how way leads on to way/I doubted if I should ever come back.” The common sense factor kicks in and one is to realize what is chosen now will affect every other choice to be made. The choice becomes the road that is taken. The choice he held on to for that brief moment then somberly let go, becomes “The Road Not Taken.” Once someone performs a simple act or spoken words that engraves who they are, there is no second chance. To put in it clearer, once you have laid down your cards, all bets are final and you do not get your money back! At the end of the poem, “I shall be telling this with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence,” reveals he knows someday he will look back and have some regrets that he did not go back and take the road more frequently traveled. Although it seems that he may be unhappy with his decision, he is not. It seems as if regret hangs over the traveler like a balloon about to burst, Yet he remains quite proud of his decision. “I took the road less traveled by, And that has made all the difference,” means that he does not regret choosing the road less traveled. He realizes that the other path, if chosen would have not given him the life experiences that he did. Quite frankly, no one would be the person they are today if it were not for each and every life experience. Critic Laurence Perrine interprets the poem as “an expression of regret that one’s Ability to explore different life possibilities is so sharply limited.”(pg 496) One would have to agree with his point, because everyone has had to make difficult unalterable decisions of which the outcome could not be foreseen. The narrator must choose between two “fair” roads, of which he cannot see the endpoints. Wandering between the two, he finally decides to take the road “less traveled by.” Yet, like most people, he later sighs with regret thinking of what he might have missed on the unexplored road. Above all, “The Road Not Taken” can truly be interpreted through much symbolism as a clear-sighted representation of two fair choices. The two roads in the poem, although, “diverging,” lead in different directions. At the beginning they appear to be somewhat similar, but is apparent that miles away they will grow farther and farther away from each other. Similar to many choices faced in life. It is impossible to foresee the consequences of most major decisions we make and it is often necessary to make these decisions based on a little more than examining which choice “wanted wear.” In the end, we look back upon the choices we have made and like the narrator “sigh,” observing that they have made “all the difference.”

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